The purpose of this paper is to study empirically based on qualitative in-depth case studies as well as a quantitative survey the role of competitiveness-enhancing regulation and open innovation activities (especially the involvement of fringe stakeholder groups) for sustainability-related innovation and competitiveness. Using qualitative and quantitative content analysis as well as multivariate regression techniques, the paper finds that openness does not associate with innovation, but the involvement of fringe stakeholders does. Furthermore, as concerns competitiveness, innovation is generally significantly and positively associated, but specific associations of types and levels of innovation with different competitiveness dimensions vary. Jointly, the qualitative and quantitative analyses confirm the important role of fringe stakeholder cooperation and related capabilities for sustainability-related innovation and competitiveness, but they also point to important structural factors such as firm size that matter for innovation and competitiveness.
Keywords: open innovation, competitiveness, sustainability, fringe stakeholder groups, user involvement, empirical, sustainable development, regulation, firm size